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Catholic Activity: Holy Saturday Festivities


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Here Maria von Trapp describes her family's preparations for Easter on Holy Saturday.


Early on Saturday morning the whole family joins the other people in the village in front of the church around the little pile of wood, which is set afire by a spark from a flint. Very solemnly this new fire is blessed by the priest. From it the triple candle is lit, and the new light, carried in procession into the church is used for lighting the Easter candle, the vigil light, and all the other candles throughout the church.

We have a couple of lanterns with us to take home this holy light. Zealously will the vigil light be guarded throughout the year. It should never be allowed to go out until the next Good Friday. We also take a few of the blessed faggots home with us. They are kept on a shelf in the kitchen. When there is one of those heavy thunder storms, such as we are used to in the mountains during the summer, one of these blessed pieces of wood is put into the kitchen stove as a protection against lightning.

On Holy Saturday there is a great activity around the house. Chapel and house are decorated with pussy willows and the first greens and the first tender spring flowers. From the kitchen come the most tempting odors. There the great Easter ham is boiling in a big kettle, and the Easter bread, made according to its own recipe and braided in its old-fashioned pattern, is baking in the oven.

On the stove there are various pots with Easter egg paint, betokening the greatest industry of the day. In every corner an artist of the family has opened his private workshop. One has some acid with which he etches the most intriguing patterns out of the blue, green, and red eggs.

Another most artistically fastens dried fems and herbs around his eggs, boiling them in paint afterward. When he finally takes off their garlands, the shape of the flowers and herbs is left white, while the rest of the egg is colored. That looks very pretty.

The real highbrow artists sit with paint and brush, and under their clever fingers appear pictures of an Easter lamb, or the Blessed Mother, or Our Risen Saviour, the different patron saints of the family, or a few bars of an Easter hymn with plenty of alleluias.

Ever since coming home from church in the morning with the new Easter light from which the lights in our house are lit, there is a festive mood all over the place.

Activity Source: Your Home, A Church in Miniature by Compiled by The Family Life Bureau in the early 1950s, The Neumann Press, Long Prairie, Minnesota, 1994

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